Predicting Successful Dental Examination for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Purpose: To evaluate characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that were associated with the ability to tolerate a dental examination following desensitization therapy. Methods: Caregivers of 168 children with ASD who attended a university-based pediatric dental clinic completed pre-visit questionnaires. Questions included demographic information, medical and dental history, behavioral characteristics, communication and self-care abilities. Children visited the clinic for an initial consultation followed by subsequent desensitization visits. The end goal was receiving an oral examination while seated in a dental chair. Bivariate associations with ability to receive a quality dental exam were tested using modified poisson regression. The statistical significance level was set to p<0.05. Results: Participants were 83% male, 4-18 years old. Eighty-eight percent allowed an oral exam when seated in a dental chair; 77.4% within 1-2 visits and 87.5% within 5 or less visits. Multiple factors predicted successful dental examination: (1) ability to be involved in group activities (RR 1.18, P=.02); (2) verbal communication (RR 1.17, P =.002); (3) understanding of most language (RR 1.14, P=.02); (4) moderate caregiver-rated ASD severity (RR 1.24, P=.04); (5) ability to dress self (RR 1.27; P=.04). Conclusion: Of those who were able to learn to accept dental care, most received dental examination within 1-2 desensitization visits and the majority did it by the 5th visit. Social, communication, and self-care abilities were strongly and positively associated with ability to receive dental examination after desensitization.
- Dentistry